I found a review of the book “The Nobel Factor” subtitled “The Prize in Economics, Social Democracy and the Market Turn” by Avner Offer and Gabriel Soderberg, and reviewed by Jim Tomlinson, to be a good explanation of how modern economics disguises a right wing ideological movement as the pseudo science of Economics. On display in this Tomlinson review are many of the problematic aspects of modern economics.
Thomas Kuhn warns us in his book on Scientific Revolutions about some of these traps that economics has fallen into. In my (Robert W Reuschlein) paper “10 Scientific Revolution Facts” my seventh Kuhn point is:
#7. “In the absence of a paradigm or some candidate for paradigm, all of the facts that could possibly pertain to the development of a given science are likely to seem equally relevant. As a result, early fact-gathering is a far more nearly random activity than the one that subsequent scientific development makes familiar.” (Kuhn)
This underscores the point that Economics is not a science based on empirical findings but rather an ideology that uses selective interpretations not empirically well based. In the words of reviewer Jim Tomlinson, University of Glascow: “The failure of the awarders of the Nobel prize to be concerned with empirical validity is seen as their biggest failing in how they have made their judgments.”
“Over its whole history, there has been a careful attempt to award the prize to a balance of economists, with the most famous case being the 1974 joint prize awarded to Friedrich Hayek and the Swedish social democratic theorist, Gunnar Myrdal.”
This also underscores my #7 point from Kuhn. It famously leads into the quote: “Give me a one–handed economist! All my economists say, On the one hand on the other.” – Harry S Truman. This leads into the Reuschlein #6 point of Kuhn’s work:
#6. “it remains an open question what parts of social science have yet acquired such paradigms at all.” (Kuhn 1962, 1972)
In the absence of scientific paradigms, all of social science, including economics, tends to fall into the #7 trap. I have quipped in private that economics is more of a séance than a science. Monetarists, Keynesians, and Marxists, are among the differing “religions” of the pseudo-science of Economics. Reuschlein’s point #9 from Kuhn: “schools guided by different paradigms are always slightly at cross-purposes.”
And we know from the psychologists that cognitive dissonance is strongest when the differences are small between competing theories. When they are all inaccurate, a case can be made for any of them, as I once learned as a legislative intern: In the state legislature of Oregon there was a tradition of freshman hazing, where a new legislator is teased by his or her colleagues as they come up with reasons to oppose his or her first carrying of a bill from committee to the legislative floor for passage. The bill may be for motherhood, apple pie, and the flag, but the hazing may suggest the mother is a woman of ill repute, the apple has worm holes in it, and the flag may be moth eaten. Once you see that, you know that politics is an art, not a science, and consists as much of theatre and fiction, as nonfiction and reality. That is what this scientifically trained electrical engineer (Reuschlein) thinks of the art of economics.
Reuschlein’s Electrical Engineering degree was the same as a degree in Applied Math and Science, except for 20 more semester credits required in Electrical Engineering. And I made four honorary societies including freshman honors, Phi Eta Sigma, Electrical Engineering, Tau Beta Pi, All Engineering, and Phi Kappa Phi, All University in the third ranked program in the nation, best of the rest, after Massachusetts Institute of Technology and California Institute of Technology, the usual top two in Engineering. So with six semesters of Physics classes, I know what a real science looks and acts like. So when I began to document the paradigms shifts of military spending and temperature on macro economics, I took great offense to the notions of social scientists that what I was doing was impossible.
Tomlinson’s review begins with this statement by Economics History Society co-founder: “R. H. Tawney, rejecting the Marshallian economics of his day, asserted that ‘There is no such thing as a science of economics, nor ever will be. It is just cant…’ “ A profound belief in ambiguity is basic to the thinking of a modern economist.
Tomlinson goes on to say: “Much of the most detailed analysis of economics here concentrates on undermining the claims of the ‘market liberals’, a term embracing proponents of the new classical macroeconomics, rational expectations and public choice. The book is scathing about the claims made for these (and other) theories, arguing that they ultimately rest on ethical presuppositions, while showing little capacity to explain empirical changes in the economy.”
From the GE “Imagination at Work” ad on 12-23-16: “Ideas come into this world ugly and messy. They are the natural born enemy of the way things are. Yes ideas are scary, and messy, and fragile. But under the proper care they begin looking beautiful.” Imagination at Work GE
The key to the General Electric ad is “Ideas….are the natural born enemy of the way things are.” Struggle is inevitable, ugly, messy, and scary. I’ve found that to be very true, as attacks by some members of the Peace and Justice Studies Association against me and my ideas show.
From Robert W Reuschlein’s paper “10 Scientific Revolution Facts”:
#5. “History suggests that the road to a firm research consensus is very arduous.” (Kuhn)
#10 “what a person sees depends both on what a person looks at and also upon what a person’s previous visual-conceptual experience has taught him or her to see.” (Kuhn)
#8 “Therefore, at times of revolution, when the normal-scientific tradition changes, the scientists perception of his environment must be re-educated – in some familiar situations he” or she “must learn to see a new gestalt.” (Kuhn)
#4. Kuhn says a new theory “requires the reconstruction of prior theory and re-evaluation of prior fact, an intrinsically revolutionary process that is seldom completed by a single person ‘and never overnight.’”
These and other reasons are why I have sought the Nobel Peace Prize rather than the Nobel Economics Prize, reasoning that the political nature of the Peace Prize is more favorable to me under the clause in Nobel’s Will “reduction of armies” than trying to buck the ideology of modern economic theory as seen by the Bank of Sweden.
See this article and the two reviews that underlay this article:
Dr. Robert Reuschlein, Dr. Peace, Real Economy Institute,
Nominated and vetted for the Nobel Peace Prize 2016,